7 Questions with… Sex Education's Asa Butterfield and Ncuti Gatwa - 'Otis is a busy boy this year'

The boys of Sex Education talk to BT TV about big changes for season two, religion and Otis’s coat.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 28 January 2020 - 11.12am
Netflix

Ruder, funnier and more emotional, season two of Sex Education is now streaming on Netflix.

The teen comedy was in Netflix’s top 10 most watched series in 2019 and the anticipation for another school year at Moordale is off the scale.

Will Eric and Adam get a happy ending? How can the Otis, Maeve and Ola love triangle get resolved? And what vegetable is Gillian Anderson’s Dr Jean going to caress this year?

We caught up with Asa Butterfield and Ncuti Gatwa, who play best buddies Otis and Eric, to find out what’s coming in year two for Sex Education….

1. What was it like to experience the phenomenal response to season one?

Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education on Netflix Netflix

Asa: It was amazing. Me, Ncuti and Emma were in New York promoting it when the show came out, so we weren’t at home and we suddenly started getting all these things popping up on our phones, news articles, then a nice review and then another nice review. There was like a tidal wave of stuff, so when we got home it was a huge thing.

Which is what we wanted, but I’m not sure we expected it to have such a huge connection around the world. And for all of it to be so lovely, was incredible.

Ncuti: I definitely felt the pressure coming back. For all of us. It was so overwhelmingly positive with season one, you think, ‘when is this going to end?’ You feel like there must be a downside coming.

But I think fans are going to like the second season as much as the first. The writers are really good at bringing these important issues to the forefront and dealing with them in a humourous way. I tried to concentrate on that and the fact that these scripts are really cool. As opposed to anything else.”

2. Season two explores how Eric's religion intersects with his love life - were you pleased to see new areas of his life being explored?

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric in Sex Education on Netflix Netflix

Ncuti: I think it’s really important. Quite often we just group people together in this world and presume they all share an experience. We’re a big mix of a whole lot of things. People come from all different backgrounds and Eric represents a lot of intersections and lots of people do. We have a young, gay couple who are both openly gay [in season two], but they think of religion very differently. That’s very interesting. I am happy Sex Ed is portraying those types of relationships as very nuanced. It’s about time we started showing LGBT stories, very nuanced, fully fleshed and a lot more of them.

3. Do you think it’s important that Sex Education covers subjects that we never hear about in schools?

Asa: Sex is not something we should not consider to be dirty. Or we should keep secret. It’s part of life. It’s the reason we’re all at this table. We need to normalise it. The before, the after, the emotion, the physicality of it, the more we can present it in an honest and frank way, the better. The climate we live in with social media, things like porn, toxic masculinity, it’s easy to get caught up in that.

Ncuti: It’s important to show life, for how life is.

Asa: It’s hard to get through to teenagers. I think a show like this does, because it makes them laugh, makes them feel for these characters and also educates them in a non-preachy and non-typical education way. Sex education in school doesn’t work because teenagers just giggle and don’t take it seriously.

4. What would you like to see more of in Sex Education season 3?

 

Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson Sex Education

Asa: I want to see more of Eric’s family. Eric goes to Otis’ house, but never the other way around. I want to see Otis and the family - how they get along.

Ncuti: I want to see Otis on the spice.

Asa: Eric’s mum will definitely have made the spicy versions for Otis.

Ncuti: You’re having it or get out! I just want the show to keep spreading… okayness. Inclusivity. Accept yourself.

 

5. How similar are you both to Eric and Otis?

Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education on Netflix Netflix

Ncuti: I guess, I’m quite exuberant. I’m quite loud. I’m a loudmouth.

Asa: Really?

Ncuti: Have you not noticed before? Ha, ha, ha. When we were doing interviews yesterday, people were saying they could hear me, but we were on the third floor and they were in the reception. My voice carries.

I grew up in church. I’m black! But you couldn’t bully me in the same way that Eric is bullied. I'd dropkick you. Ha. ha, ha.

Asa: In some ways, I'm similar. We both have niche hobbies. We both like music. When they designed the bedroom, they asked me about bands and movies I liked, so a lot of the choices you see are based on my own tastes. Otis is also quite mature for his age and I think I was always quite mature for my age, just because of the industry I grew up in.

6. Eric has more wild costumes this year and Otis is still in that coat. Do you keep any of the costumes?

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric in Sex Education on Netflix Netflix

Asa: The only things I've kept are accidentally not changing my pants at the end of the day filming and getting home to realise, 'oh these are Otis' pants. These are really nice'. Sorry costume department, I’ve got your pants.

Ncuti: That coat is getting popular now though.

Asa: That coat is popular.

Ncuti: There are some returns from season one for Eric. And some… visions!

7. How have Otis and Eric changed from season to season two?

Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education on Netflix Netflix

Asa: In Otis, his confidence as a whole has improved. His ability to impart wisdom is better. His social status in the school - everyone knows who he is. I don’t know how happy he is about that, but he’s getting along with it.

His sexual development, the fact he’s got past this barrier that’s been up his own life. He got past that at the end of season one and he’s discovered the nice luscious green grass on the other side. He's now got a feast.

Ncuti: He’s a busy boy. He’s a busy boy this year!

Eric is now a little less keen to please everyone, appease everyone and be everyone's best friend. He’s a bit more settled in who he is. It's really nice to reprise a role at a new stage in someone’s life. Mentally and emotionally, he's more comfortable in himself and a little more unapologetic about taking up space and sticking up for himself.

And he's got a bit better on the French horn!

Sex Education season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.

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